ARRL creates and AIR app for generating amateur radio exams

As some of you know, one of my other interests besides programming is amateur radio. I am the “liaison” or team lead between our local group of volunteer examiners (VEs) and the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) group responsible for overseeing license testing for the FCC. Part of the responsibility of being team lead is ensuring that we have an adequate supply of written exams for the three different license classes.

In the past, the ARRL has provided us with a Windows-based program to generate exams from the question pool. The program worked well, but each time there were any changes to the question pools (which happens on the 1st of July in 3 out of 5 years), they had to create a new Windows installer package to disseminate to all the VE team leaders. That in of itself was a pain enough, but for those of us who are Mac and/or Linux folks it became a real hassle.

In today’s newsletter to VEs, I noticed that the ARRL had announced a new version of the exam generations software. When I went to download it, I was pleasantly surprised to find an AIR badge to install the program. It’s an HTML-based AIR application but a lot of thought was put into how it functions. It takes advantage of AIR’s built-in database to synchronize its question pools and answer templates with the latest approved versions as well as periodically checks to see if there are any updates to the program itself–all the things that we love about AIR. Oh, and since it’s an AIR app, it obviously runs natively on my Mac!

I’ve been kind of critical of the ARRL in the past in regard to the applications that they offer for use (some are pretty bad). This one however, really fits the bill for what those of us responsible for printing exams need to do on a regular basis. Hopefully, this will be the first of many applications that they develop on the AIR platform.